As reported by BetaNews, AOL originally planned for a February beta, but pushed back the release to March citing the need for more time. The company has been polishing the numerous changes and enhancements that were added since the prototype of Netscape 8 last November.
One Netscape developer told BetaNews, "The prototype and beta are completely different applications, practically."
In January, a minor update to Netscape brought the browsers code base up to Firefox 1.0. AOL did not have time to incorporate Firefoxs recent 1.0.1 changes into the beta release, and acknowledges, "The deficiencies noted in Firefox 1.0 are inherited in Netscape 8 Beta in most cases."
A source close to development told BetaNews Netscape 8 will be upgraded to Firefox 1.0.1 before the final release. The source also noted that because most of the phishing sites with Internationalized Domain Names are blocked through blacklists, the Firefox vulnerabilities are not as relevant to Netscape 8.
In addition to changes under the hood, AOLs Netscape team has made numerous modifications to the browsers outside. A new skin has been developed for the beta, along with other usability improvements.